By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Arsenal officials will fly out to Germany at the start of this week to hold Julian Draxler talks with Schalke as they target two new signings from the Bundesliga, Goal can reveal.
The Premier League leaders will attempt to broker a deal for Schalke sensation Draxler in a bid to sign him before Friday’s transfer deadline, and they will also open negotiations with Frankfurt over a move for right-back Sebastian Jung.
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Arsene Wenger values the forward at between £25 million and £30m but Schalke want the Gunners to meet the £37.2m release clause inserted in the five-year contract signed by the 20-year-old last summer.
Even if the two clubs can settle a fee, Goal has learned that Schalke want to land a replacement for Draxler, with Tottenham’s Lewis Holtby said to be high on their target list, before sanctioning the departure of their prize asset.
Before Schalke's Bundesliga match against Hamburg on Sunday, the club's sporting director Horst Heldt insisted: "I can't exclude anything, I don't know what other clubs are planning. I only know what happens in our club - and nothing happens at the moment, so we don't bother with this. We are very calm with this thing."
Goal exclusively revealed on January 11 that Arsenal were weighing up a January move for Draxler and that the club were confident he could be developed from a wide player into a centre-forward.
Wenger has been in the market for a "special" forward in the last three windows and stepped up his search this month following Theo Walcott's season-ending knee injury.
Preliminary discussions have taken place between Schalke and Arsenal, and the Gunners have also learned that Draxler is keen to move to the Emirates Stadium and follow in the footsteps of fellow German internationals Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski.
Speaking after Arsenal knocked Coventry out of the FA Cup on Friday night, Wenger claimed that the Gunners’ reported pursuit of Draxler was “an illusion” but, behind the scenes, progress has been made in capturing a player who has been coveted by a number of Premier League clubs.
Wenger has also been pursuing loan options this month as he keeps his attacking options open, and is believed to have lined up a short-term striker deal as back-up if Arsenal cannot agree a Draxler deal. If the Gunners cannot finalise a transfer for the forward before the window closes, they are expected to make another move in the summer.
Arsenal officials will also meet with their counterparts at Frankfurt in the coming days for talks about a move for Jung, 23.
The German is valued at £7m and has jumped to the top of the Gunners’ list of right-back targets as question marks remain over the future of Bacary Sagna. Arsenal could hold off until the summer for a formal move for Jung, but the immediacy of the talks suggests a bid may be imminent.
However, Sagna has yet to agree to remain at the Emirates. His contract expires in the summer and he has offers on the table from a number of leading European clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco and Inter.